Rose Amara, aka Mamma Mandala, was a very special guest at our recent ISHKA Clayton and Chadstone grand opening celebrations, creating stunning mandala artworks to raise money for her young son Beau, diagnosed with Diplegic Cerebral Palsy.
With Mother’s Day just around the corner, we thought it was the perfect time to share the story of one very amazing mum and her hard-fought journey to change the world for her special little boy.
Here, Rose tells us her story.
"I wasn’t just creating for me anymore. I was doing something I love, for someone I love."
Ever since I can remember, drawing, painting and creating has always been a great passion and outlet of mine. A way to reconnect with myself. A way to block out the noise of the busy world and sit sweetly in the space in between.
For years I’ve worked with live canvases through my face and body painting, and more recently I’ve focused on creating intricate mandalas, inkwork, and abstract painting using a range of mediums. I’ve always been very passionate about what I do and taken great joy from seeing and hearing how my artwork has positively impacted others, too.
About 5 years ago, my love for my art took on a whole new meaning when everything in my life changed.
For many years my mother had suffered with severe rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis which had left her heavily disabled. We had a very close relationship and I had become her main carer, so I was left devastated when she suddenly and unexpectedly passed away – not from her initial illness – but from ischemic heart disease, a result of all the heavy medication she had been taking since the young age of 16.
It was almost simultaneously after my mother’s death that I learned I was pregnant with my first child, Beau. Shortly after, my unborn son was diagnosed with Gastroschesis, a condition where intestines grow outside of the body.
When Beau was born, he underwent gastrointestinal surgery and spent 6 weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). We were then informed Beau had brain damage in the area of his motor skills affecting his lower limbs, and he was diagnosed with Diplegic Cerebral Palsy.
"As you can imagine – emotionally, physically, mentally – so much was going on. I barely had a chance to process my mother’s death, before I was faced with a whole new, completely unknown, world of things. A deer in headlights is likely what I visually embodied."
Life became a dizzying cycle of medical and hospital appointments, therapy, tests, doctors and research. Despite our constant worries, confusion and exhaustion, we powered through as best we could, caring for our beautiful boy and doing everything within our power to give Beau the best chance of one day living a normal, healthy and independent life.
Over time I slowly came to realise that with all the focus on Beau’s health, I had lost touch with myself. It dawned on me that I hadn’t even allowed myself to step back and take stock of everything that had happened over the last few years, especially grieving for my mum who was also my best friend.
It was then that I remembered what it was that made me tick, process my emotions and feel positive – I needed to create. And so I began. The re-discovery of my art was like creating a space to express and process how I was feeling. A space to take time out and refill my own cup again.
It was around this time we stumbled upon a specialist intensive therapy clinic called the NAPA Centre, who could help Beau learn to walk and live independently. We were incredibly lucky enough to get a spot in one of only 2 centres in the world – Sydney. After our first 3-week session, the difference in Beau’s morale and his physical gains were undeniable. We had to bring him back.
Unfortunately, the therapy was extremely expensive – each NAPA visit costs around $13,000. We were desperate to figure out a way to get him back there as soon as possible.
And so Mamma Mandala was born.
I began to create artworks for the sole purpose of raising funds for Beau’s therapy. I started out designing gift cards, then worked up to creating and selling intricate mandalas and abstract artworks on hardwood and birchwood canvases.
"I have always loved mandalas. I love the way they look, the way you can get lost in them, and the way they can tell a different story to any number of different people."
The proceeds of my artwork, along with an incredible number of generous donations we have received from the wider community, have helped Beau to attend his 3-week therapy programs at NAPA, receive weekly physiotherapy at CPEC (Cerebral Palsy Education Centre in Melbourne) and offer Beau the opportunity to receive life-altering surgery in the USA later this year.
We still have a long road left to travel, but these programs, along with the surgery, will help Beau to walk, move and live independently.
"Raising funds by doing something that I love for someone I love, makes creating my artwork even more special."
Despite his tough start to life, Beau has been a superstar and we couldn’t be more proud. He is just the brightest, most positive kid you’ll meet. He has a funny sense of humour and is incredibly sweet and thoughtful.
He’s also a wonderful big brother to his little 3 year old sister, Violet, who likes to sit and watch mesmerised as I bring my Mamma Mandala artworks to life. Recently she pointed to the centre of a mandala I was painting and said, “Mummy, that’s where the light comes out.”
When I think of Beau’s ordeal and our incredible journey to get to this point, Violet couldn’t be more right.
If you would like to donate money to Beau to help him walk and live independently, visit their GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/helpbeaubootwalker. Donations of any amount are very much appreciated. You can also stay up to date on Beau’s progress on his facebook page.
We will be hosting a second live auction on our facebook page this week to auction off another beautiful and original mandala artwork by Mamma Mandala. Our 3-day live auction will run from 7pm Wednesday 10th – 7pm Friday 13th May. Let’s all get involved and raise money for this wonderful family!